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01-Nov-2017 21:16

In the Bognor Regis case [1972] 2 QB 169 no attempt was made to weigh the public interest in freedom of expression against the public interest in the protection of reputation. (3d) 755 it is uncertain whether that case remains good law in Canada in the light of the constitutional guarantee of free speech in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: see Edmonton Journal v Attorney-General for Alberta (1989) 64 D. The Law Times report contains a somewhat longer judgement of Day J in these terms, 63 LT 805, 806-807:"This action is brought by the mayor, aldermen, and citizens of the city of Manchester to recover damages from the defendant in respect of that which is alleged by them to be a libel on the corporation.Although followed in City of Prince George v British Columbia Television System Ltd, 85 D. The alleged libel is contained in a letter written by the defendant to the editor of the 'Manchester Examiner and Times,' which charged, as alleged by the statement of claim, that bribery and corruption existed or had existed in three departments of the Manchester City Council, and that the plaintiffs were either parties thereto or culpably ignorant thereof, and that the said bribery and corruption prevailed to such an extent as to render necessary an inquiry by a parliamentary commission.On appeal by the plaintiff:-Held, dismissing the appeal, that since it was of the highest public importance that a democratically elected governmental body should be open to uninhibited public criticism, and since the threat of civil actions for defamation would place an undesirable fetter on the freedom to express such criticism, it would be contrary to the public interest for institutions of central or local government to have any right at common law to maintain an action for damages for defamation; and that, accordingly, the plaintiff was not entitled to bring an action for libel against the defendants, and its statement of claim would be struck out (post, pp. Manchester Corporation v Williams [1891] 1 QB 94, D. Decision of the Court of Appeal [1992] QB 770; [1992] 3 WLR 28; [1992] 3 All ER 65 affirmed on different grounds. This was an appeal, by leave of the Court of Appeal, by the plaintiff, Derbyshire County Council, from the decision of the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler-Sloss L. On the contrary, section 222 of the Local Government Act 1972 confers a wide power on local authorities to institute civil proceedings of all types. It is open to question, however, whether qualified privilege attaches to the publication of fair information on a matter of public interest concerning the manner in which a public officer performs public functions: see Webb v Times Publishing Co Ltd [1960] 2 QB 535 and Blackshaw v Lord [1984] QB 1, in which the Court of Appeal took too narrow a view of the scope of privilege in such circumstances. A civil court can grant prior restraint of publication, and damages are potentially without limit. Their Lordships took time for consideration.18 February 1993.JJ.) [1992] QB 770 allowing an appeal by the defendants, Times Newspapers Ltd, Andrew Neil, the editor of "The Sunday Times," and Rosemary Collins and Peter Hounam, two of the newspaper's journalists, from the order of Morland J. In exercising its powers and carrying out its functions as a county council, the plaintiff has a reputation that is distinct from that of its individual members or officers. It is not necessary for the corporation to prove actual damage: South Hetton Coal Co Ltd v North-Eastern News Association Ltd [1894] 1 QB 133. The need for a local authority to be able to sue for libel to protect its reputation is a real and pressing one. The plaintiffs cannot rely on section 222(1) of the Local Government Act 1972, since their proceedings are not capable of promoting or protecting the interests of the inhabitants of Derbyshire generally and they constitute an unnecessary interference with free expression. There is no legal aid and proceedings are notoriously costly. Lord Keith of Kinkel: My Lords, this appeal raises, as a preliminary issue in an action of damages for libel, the question whether a local authority is entitled to maintain an action in libel for words which reflect on it in its governmental and administrative functions.

Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others[1993] AC 534, [1993] 1 All ER 1011, [1993] 2 WLR 449, 91 LGR 179 House of Lords Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Griffiths, Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Browne-Wilkinson and Lord Woolf Defamation - Parties - Corporation - Publication relating to administration of local authority's superannuation fund - Publication insinuating maladministration of pension funds - Balance between public interest in freedom of speech and protection of authority's reputation - Whether local authority entitled to maintain action in defamation The plaintiff, a local authority, brought an action for damages for libel against the defendants in respect of two newspaper articles which had questioned the propriety of investments made for its superannuation fund. 71; Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. 999 and Argus Printing and Publishing Co Ltd v Inkatha Freedom Party, 1992 (3) S. 579.] The Court of Appeal erred in holding that Manchester Corporation v Williams [1891] 1 QB 94; 63 L. 805 conflicts with the Bognor decision and casts doubt on the general principle that a local authority is entitled to sue for libel. [1991] 2 AC 306.]Even if a governmental body is entitled to sue for libel, a constitutional privilege should attach to a publication imputing maladministration to such a body.A local authority should not be deprived of the right to bring an action for libel because of the possibility of its being able to prosecute for criminal libel. The plaintiffs are not a trading corporation or some other private body: they are a governmental body performing public duties and exercising public powers not possessed by individual citizens or private bodies. This would deter newspapers and individual citizens from offending governmental bodies and would lead to self-censoring and public ignorance about the workings of government. On 31 July 1991 French J refused an application by the plaintiff to amend the statement of claim so as to plead a certain specific item of special damage.This offence is virtually extinct and is anomalous and difficult to reconcile with article 10: see Reg. There is no justification for treating a local authority's governing reputation as analogous to a private company's or trade union's business reputation, and there is no legitimate public interest in restricting or interfering with freedom of speech to protect that governing reputation. Placing the burden of proving justification upon the defendant does not mean that only false allegations would be deterred. The preliminary point of law was tried at first instance before Morland J [1992] QB 770 who on 15 March 1991 decided it in favour of the plaintiff.v Wells Street Stipendiary Magistrate, Ex parte Deakin [1980] AC 477. For the courts to allow an elected public authority to sue for libel would be to authorise unnecessary interference by the common law with freedom of expression in a democratic society. In addition, would-be critics of government conduct will be deterred from voicing criticism even though what they published was reasonably believed to be true and was in fact true, because of doubt of whether it could be proved to the satisfaction of a court of law, or because of fear of the expense of having to do so: see City of Chicago v Tribune Co, 139 N. 86, approved in New York Times Co v Sullivan, 376 U. However, on appeal by the defendants his judgement was reversed by the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler- Sloss LJJ) [1992] QB 770, on 19 February 1992.Nor should the right be denied because of the availability of actions for malicious falsehood. It is important that there should be as much public information and public criticism about the workings of local government as there is about the workings of central government. The plaintiff now appeals, with leave given in the Court of Appeal, to your Lordships' House.

Derbyshire County Council v Times Newspapers Ltd and Others[1993] AC 534, [1993] 1 All ER 1011, [1993] 2 WLR 449, 91 LGR 179 House of Lords Lord Keith of Kinkel, Lord Griffiths, Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Browne-Wilkinson and Lord Woolf Defamation - Parties - Corporation - Publication relating to administration of local authority's superannuation fund - Publication insinuating maladministration of pension funds - Balance between public interest in freedom of speech and protection of authority's reputation - Whether local authority entitled to maintain action in defamation The plaintiff, a local authority, brought an action for damages for libel against the defendants in respect of two newspaper articles which had questioned the propriety of investments made for its superannuation fund. 71; Die Spoorbond v South African Railways, 1946 A. 999 and Argus Printing and Publishing Co Ltd v Inkatha Freedom Party, 1992 (3) S. 579.] The Court of Appeal erred in holding that Manchester Corporation v Williams [1891] 1 QB 94; 63 L. 805 conflicts with the Bognor decision and casts doubt on the general principle that a local authority is entitled to sue for libel. [1991] 2 AC 306.]Even if a governmental body is entitled to sue for libel, a constitutional privilege should attach to a publication imputing maladministration to such a body.A local authority should not be deprived of the right to bring an action for libel because of the possibility of its being able to prosecute for criminal libel. The plaintiffs are not a trading corporation or some other private body: they are a governmental body performing public duties and exercising public powers not possessed by individual citizens or private bodies. This would deter newspapers and individual citizens from offending governmental bodies and would lead to self-censoring and public ignorance about the workings of government. On 31 July 1991 French J refused an application by the plaintiff to amend the statement of claim so as to plead a certain specific item of special damage.This offence is virtually extinct and is anomalous and difficult to reconcile with article 10: see Reg. There is no justification for treating a local authority's governing reputation as analogous to a private company's or trade union's business reputation, and there is no legitimate public interest in restricting or interfering with freedom of speech to protect that governing reputation. Placing the burden of proving justification upon the defendant does not mean that only false allegations would be deterred. The preliminary point of law was tried at first instance before Morland J [1992] QB 770 who on 15 March 1991 decided it in favour of the plaintiff.v Wells Street Stipendiary Magistrate, Ex parte Deakin [1980] AC 477. For the courts to allow an elected public authority to sue for libel would be to authorise unnecessary interference by the common law with freedom of expression in a democratic society. In addition, would-be critics of government conduct will be deterred from voicing criticism even though what they published was reasonably believed to be true and was in fact true, because of doubt of whether it could be proved to the satisfaction of a court of law, or because of fear of the expense of having to do so: see City of Chicago v Tribune Co, 139 N. 86, approved in New York Times Co v Sullivan, 376 U. However, on appeal by the defendants his judgement was reversed by the Court of Appeal (Balcombe, Ralph Gibson and Butler- Sloss LJJ) [1992] QB 770, on 19 February 1992.Nor should the right be denied because of the availability of actions for malicious falsehood. It is important that there should be as much public information and public criticism about the workings of local government as there is about the workings of central government. The plaintiff now appeals, with leave given in the Court of Appeal, to your Lordships' House.We have three small group homes at The Grange – Cedars, Maples and Willows – for people who need care and support all the time. We make sure you are personally involved in any decisions that affect your life.